Achieving Success at Job Fairs

Posted October 4, 2011 by Marcy Twete in Career Moves
‘Tis the season for job fairs. It seems they’re everywhere right now. And while job fairs sound like a great idea when you sign up for them, most people who attend end up milling around and wasting their day, walking away without much success. Then, there are those people who go overboard with the “schtick” and make themselves look like idiots. True story, a guy I went to college with once went to a job fair in a blaze orange shirt and tie and approached every booth with the catch phrase, “Blaze orange ain’t just for deer huntin’, it’s for job huntin’ too.” Ugh.

So here you have it, a few tips for making the most of your job fair experience:

  • Come prepared. If you don’t have business cards, have them made. Then, paper clip them to your resumes. Bring far too many copies of your resume and cards, just in case.
  • Perfect your elevator speech. Who are you, what are you looking for, and what distinguishes you from your peers in 30 seconds. Repeat it over and over to yourself. Say it in the shower, say it to your friends and family, practice makes perfect. This way, even if you’re nervous, you’ll have your speech down pat.
  • Leave your baggage at home, literally. No one wants to shake hands and hand out resumes all while balancing a huge bag and coffee cup, etc. If you can, bring only a portfolio with your resumes and cards and a pen. Leave the rest in the car.
  • Stay all day. Most companies don’t staff job fairs with the same staff all day, especially at a local fair. You might find different representatives from the same company at different times during the day. If you’re truly interested in a company, meet as many people as you can from that company. Get them talking about you.
  • Get their information! Don’t be content to put your name on a list or just leave your resume. Get cards when you can and names always. Write them down for follow-up.
  • Finally, FOLLOW UP. Not a week later, not a month later. Follow up immediately or nearly immediately. My preference is to first send an email thanking them for taking time to meet you and expressing your interest in another face-to-face meeting or interview. Then, apply for jobs within their company you’re interested in. And finally, follow up with a phone call to express your interest in the company.

Overall, be authentic and confident and make your follow-up polite but assertive.

About the Author

Marcy Twete

Marcy Twete is a career fundraiser turned corporate responsibility executive, a career and networking expert and the author of the book "You Know Everybody! A Career Girl’s Guide to Building a Network That Works."